Dochula Pass, 108 chortens (Asian stupas), memorial in honour of Bhutanese soldiers, Timpu, Bhutan

Itinerary: Journey to the Lands of Thunder Dragon

20 September to 11 October 2019

Lands of the Thunder Dragon is a tour for everyone wanting to see India and Bhutan on roads less travelled and explore new horizons rarely encountered. With our innovative itinerary, our top-notch experts, and a thriving network of resources throughout these destinations, we have the privilege of offering you exceptional travel experiences. There is nothing quite like seeing places through the eyes of someone who knows them intimately and cares about them passionately. We take care of the details, so you can relax, enjoy, and immerse yourself in the wonder of the places you are visiting and exploring.

You will love this Journey because you will encounter:

• Kolkata’s rich heritage, from ancient Hinduism, through the British Raj, to contemporary life, all in a great bustling city not often included in tours to India. (Did you know Kolkata’s University has a Chair in Australian Literature?)
• the famous Toy Train as it spirals up the Batasia Loop
• the story of how the Asiatic rhinos of Jaldapara National Park came back from the brink of extinction to the thriving population that lives there today. Leopards, gaur, vast array of birds, and if lucky, the mighty Royal Bengal Tiger. (I saw one earlier this year in preparation for more Sub Continental Journeys - couldn’t resist telling you that!)
• destinations well off the beaten track to engage with remote tribal peoples and their way of life, all in the company of our outstanding local experts
• the awesome snow-clad Himalayan peaks, the abode of the gods
• opportunities to take easy walks on mountain tracks to meet Bhutanese families and see the magnificent Tiger’s Nest monastery perched on the cliff face
• traditional crafts of textiles, mask making, tangka painting and much more
• the great Thimpu tsechu; the whirling dance, chant and magnificent masks and vestments of the sacred ceremonies
• superb Buddhist monastic complexes and monuments, stay in heritage properties and explore. There is so much variety packed into this trip to show you as many facets of this part of India and Bhutan as we can

You may join this Journey in Paro, omitting Sikkim. Ask us for the details.

There is also an option to fly from Paro to Kathmandu (or vice versa) to join a Journey across Tibet. You will begin with an exploration of the Kathmandu Valley and environs (necessary whilst the Tibet Permit and Chinese visa are obtained by our Kathmandu office). Fly to Lhasa and visit Shigaste, Gyantse, Xegar, and the Everest Base Camp. Full details available now from Zen Oriental Journeys.

Our Hotels:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, or staying at luxury hotels, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your holiday into a truly magical experience. Journey to the Lands of Thunder Dragon is a tour for everyone wanting to experience Sikkim and Bhutan, but also including destinations on roads less travelled and exploring new horizons rarely encountered.

Participants should note that the order of visits and activities described may be modified to accommodate changes in flight schedules, special access to museums and craftspeople, the pathways chosen by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides, local road conditions and unexpected contingencies.

Meals:

Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the itinerary as per B (breakfast), L (lunch), and D (dinner).

A jug of black tea and cubes of sugar

Itinerary:

Day 1: 20 Sep 2019, Arrive Kolkata

Victoria Memorial on a bright sunny morning, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Depart Australia today and fly to Kolkata. We will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.

Accommodation: Peerless Inn, Superior Room - A modern 4 star hotel located right in the heart of Kolkata - walking distance from the Indian Museum OR The Oberoi Grand at a supplement– A 5 Star Colonial Hotel; ‘The Grand Old Dame of Chowringhee’. Please note we can’t confirm any hotels just yet as its too soon for them to open bookings. We will keep you updated.

Day 2: 21 Sep 2019, Kolkata, B/D

Kolkata, the former capital of the British Raj, was once the most important trade centre in all of Asia, and while colonialism in the city is a thing of the past, it’s left a legacy. No trip to Kolkata would be complete without engaging with a mix of Raj and Indian attractions, and the city’s best include both.

We will first enjoy an heritage walk of Dalhousie Square followed by visit to the flower market with an impressive view of the Howrah Bridge. We then visit the enthralling historic quarter of Kumartuli, where potters create lavish images of deities for religious festivals. Its winding lanes are home to an artistic community that carry on a centuries-old tradition with more than 400 artisans who create thousands of clay effigies of the Goddess Durga, her children and asuras or demons. We will also visit the Kalighat Temple, and gaze in awe at the mighty Hoogly River (one arm of the Ganges) and then proceed for lunch (not included).

Later we may visit the Indian Museum with its stunning collection of classical Indian sculpture, and the South Park St Cemetery followed by a visit to the famous book market of Kolkata, if time permits.

Nothing symbolizes the British Raj quite so much as the Victoria Memorial. This palatial white marble monument was built in 1901 as a tribute to Her Majesty following her death. Impressive from the outside alone, thanks to the interesting blend of Renaissance and Indo-Saracenic architectural elements, the monument also contains a museum displaying more than 3,500 artefacts from the British colonial period; possibly the most awesome reminder of the Raj to be found in India.

Tonight, we will enjoy a welcome dinner savouring the traditional Bengali cuisine at a local restaurant.

Hindu culture, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Day 3: 22 Sep 2019, Kolkata - Bagdogra - Kalimpong, B/D

Today we will be transferred to the airport and fly to Bagdogra, from where we will be driven through the high foothills to Kalimpong (around 4-5 hrs drive).

Accommodation: Hotel Mayfair Himalaya or Elgin Silver Oaks, both lovely character hotels

Bungalow, Lachung, North Sikkim, India

Day 4: 23 Sep 2019, Kalimpong, B/D

After breakfast we will visit Deolo Hills and Dr. Graham’s Home, (Orphanage and School) where we will meet the teachers and if available, the Principal. Dr. Graham's Homes was founded in 1900 by Reverend Dr. John Anderson Graham, a missionary of the Church of Scotland, who settled in Kalimpong and worked with the local community for several years during the turn of the 20th century, providing an education mostly for abandoned Anglo-Indian children. We will also visit the flower nurseries, Zang Dog Palri Fo-Brang and the Tharpa Choling Gompa.

Day 5: 24 Sep 2019, Kalimpong - Gangtok, B/D

After breakfast drive to Gangtok, the capital town of Sikkim, en-route visiting the famous Rumtek Gompa which was built in the 1960s by the 16th Gyala Karmapa which replicates the original Kagyu headquarters in Tibet. Here, devoted lamas robed in crimson chant ancient mantras to the rhythm of drums and trumpets while soft light flickers from decorative lamps.

Rumtek Gompa, North Sikkim, India

Rumtek Monastry near Gangtok, Sikkim, India

MG Marg Street, Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Accommodation at Norkhill, Deluxe Room or Netuk House (both character heritage hotels)

Day 6: 25 Sep 2019, Gangtok, B/D

In the morning we visit Enchey Gompa, or the ‘solitary temple’, and the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and Directorate of Handloom & Handicrafts.

Day 7: 26 Sep 2019, Gangtok - Darjeeling, B/D

After a leisurely, breakfast we will be driven to ‘The Queen of the Hills,’ Darjeeling, visiting a tea garden on the way. Rest of the day at leisure.

Green tea plantations, Munnar, Kerala, India

Accommodation at Windermere, Elgin or Cedar Inn, all lovely character hotels.

Day 8: 27 Sep 2019, Darjeeling, B/D

Around 4am we drive to Tiger Hill to witness the sunrise over Mt. Khanchenjungha (weather permitting) and back to the hotel. After breakfast we experience the World Heritage Toy Train ride to Ghoom, where we visit Ghoom Gompa and the Batasia Loop. There is no better place to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling's landscape, including the hill town and the snow covered peaks of the Eastern Himalayas with the majestic Kanchenjunga on one side. And all this from the middle of a lovely flower garden around, which the toy train track is laid. Batasia means ‘airy space’. As you stand on one side of the garden and see the toy train making a complete loop, while hooting its whistle along the way and trying to negotiate the spiral track with a double loop; it's a fabulous experience.

Kanchenjunga Range of the Himalayas at sunrise, Sikkim, India

Batasia Loop, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

Later in the afternoon we enjoy sightseeing of Darjeeling visiting the Tibetan refugee self-help centre, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute & Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park.

Day 9: 28 Sep 2019, Darjeeling - Jaldapara, B/L/D

Today we will really deviate from the beaten track to engage with a little-known aspect of India, the beautiful Jaldapara National Park which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1941 with the aim of protecting the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. In 2012, its status was upgraded to that of a national park. It's the place to see one horned rhino, elephants, gaurs (Indian Bison), deer and a good number of birds. If time permits, enjoy a jeep safari or nature walk.

Rabha Tribe Dance, Northern India

Bengal Tiger, Jaldapara National Park, India

Citrine Wagtail on Water Lilly flower, Jaldapara National Park, India

Accommodation at Tourist Rest House (The Only option here)

Day 10: 29 Sep 2019, Jaldapara, B/L/D

Today we will enjoy a morning or an afternoon jeep safari to see the wildlife and if lucky, a leopard, or even a Royal Bengal Tiger. We will also visit the local Toto tribal group in the region of Totapara, on the northern edges on the Park.

Female Great Indian hornbill, (Buceros bicornis), also known as Asian Pied Hornbill, Jaldapara National Park, India

one horned rhino, Jaldapara National Park, India

Wild Indian Elephants, Jaldapara National Park, India

Day 11: 30 Sep 2019, Jaldapara - Phuntshoeing - Paro, B/L/D

The Land of the Thunder Dragon begins. Here, each part of the sky and earth has a name from the sacred Buddhist scriptures. The plains below are “eight-petalled lotuses” (symbols of purity), the mountains which surround you are “elephants in repose” (symbols of strength), “proudly-posed lions” (symbols of courage), and “garuda birds taking flight”, (symbols of the loftiness of metaphysical views). Lakes which abound are “vessels of plenty” or cups of amrita [ambrosia]. The parts of the sky seen between the peaks are like “spirals of joy” or daggers representing the destruction of the mental poisons of desire, hatred and ignorance. Every valley is a place of pilgrimage, every rock, river and cave we will see has its own unique spiritual history.


Bhutan is now one of the last strongholds of Tantric Buddhism with sacred monasteries sitting precariously on sheer cliffs, fluttering prayer flags lining high mountain ridges, red robed monks chanting in distant temples, and colourful masked dancers performing ancient rituals on sacred dzong (monastic fortress) grounds during Buddhist festivals. For centuries, monks and refugees from Tibet have settled in Bhutan’s hospitable and fertile valleys, ensuring close cultural links between the cultures. Drawing on this heritage Bhutan soon developed a highly distinctive culture of its own from and made it the essence of their timeless identity.

Bhutan only opened its doors to tourism in 1974, with the number for tourists kept to an environmentally manageable level through government regulated tourist tariff. A totally Buddhist kingdom, the Bhutanese are renowned for their happiness, and are a proud people who wear their national costume with pride.

Today we will drive to the Bhutan border. On arrival at Phuentsholing, we will be met by our representative and after clearing immigration formalities, drive through magnificent Himalayan scenery to stop at Kharbandi Gompa, situated in garden of tropical plants and flowers. From the Gompa garden there is a splendid view of Phuentsholing, the plains of West Bengal and tea gardens beyond.

Those opting for the Bhutan only sector of the Journey will arrive in Paro today.

Accommodation at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 12: 01 Oct 2019, Paro, B/L/D

We take a morning excursion by walking or horseback (optional) along Himalayan trails through rhododendron and moss forests to Taktsang Monastery viewpoint, the most famous and spectacular of Bhutanese monasteries. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery-hence it is called "Tiger's Nest". Today it is a place of pilgrimage, which the Bhutanese try to visit at least once in a lifetime. (The excursion to the monastery viewpoint takes about 5 hours for the round trip including lunch and extensive viewing).

Famous Paro Taktsang, Bhutan, Asia

Afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of the goddess'' can be seen in all ‘her’ glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Time permitting, we may visit a traditional Bhutanese farm house for an opportunity to interact with a local family offering deep insight into the lifestyle of village folks.

Bhutanese Farmhouse, Bhutan

We anticipate there will be time to visit the Jowo Temple of Kyichu one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the famed Tibetan master, Songsten Gampo. It is considered to be one of the 108 ‘border taming’ temples he built. In the 8th century the temple was visited by Guru Rinpoche and it is believed he concealed many spiritual treasures here.

Accommodation at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 13: 02 October 2019, Paro - Punakha, B/L/D

This morning we drive to Thimpu and visit the National Library which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. Visit the nearby Institute of Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six-year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. It is particularly famous for sacred thangkha paintings. Also visit the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of Bhutan's living traditions.

After lunch, we drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass: Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana - finally Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m. Tonight, we stay in either Punakha or Wangduephodrang, with their bustling markets famous for bamboo products, slate and stone carvings and ancient town.

Accommodation at the hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)

Paro Rinpung Dzong at night, Paro, Bhutan

Mural Painting inside Rinpung Dzong, a Buddhist Monastery and Fortress, Paro District, Bhutan

Day 14: 03 October 2019, Punkaha - Trongsa, B/L/D

Panorama of Punakha Dzong and Valley of Pho Chhu (Pho River), former capital of Bhutan

Punakha Dzong or Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), Punakha, old capital of Bhutan

Dochula Pass with 108 chortens (stupas), memorial in honour of the Bhutanese soldiers, Timpu, Bhutan

After breakfast we visit Punakha dzong. (Palace of Great Happiness). The great dzong is built on a tongue of land at the confluence of the rivers Pho and Mo, in the beautiful Punakha valley, which is famous for its mild climates and tropical fruits in season. The fortress was established in 1637 and until the 1950's was the winter capital of Bhutan. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Our guide will illuminate our understanding of this intricate culture. An easy 15 minute walk brings us to Chimi Lhakhang, a very popular and revered temple that lies on the periphery of the fertile valley of Lobesa, where the borders of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang districts meet. Being dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman, the temple is popularly considered to be a temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children pray at this temple, and are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give us rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.

After lunch, drive to Trongsaa, crossing Pelela pass (3,300 m), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by large prayer flags and the ground is covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo.

Snowy Mountain Peaks, Himalayas, Bhutan

Evening exploration of Trongsa town and market.

Accommodation at the hotel in Trongsa. (Altitude 2,310m)

Day 15: 04 October 2019, Trongsa - Bumthang, B/L/D

After breakfast, we visit the magnificent Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648 as the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. Then visit Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a wonderful museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

Bhutanese woman weaving, Eastern Bhutan, near Trashigang, Bhutan

After lunch, drive on to Bumthang across Yutong-la pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into the Chumey Valley, a wide fertile valley where wheat, barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated. Chumey is particularly known for its famous wool weaving called ‘Bumthang Yathra’. Visit a Yathra weaving centre and enjoy a tea or coffee with the weaving family.

Accommodation at the hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

The Kurje Lhakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan

Day 16: 05 October 2019, Bumthang, B/L/D

Today we will immerse ourselves in the valley which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan. Spacious, and surrounded by tree covered mountains, the Jakar area is known as a bastion of Vajrayana Buddhism, (an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism, “The Way of the Adamantine Diamond Thunderbolt’) and there are many monasteries and sacred sites located here. We will visit (please note that many of the dzongs are closed to visitors, so we will often simply have a photo stop and a walk around the exterior. We will see the interiors of the most awesome!!) Jakar Dzong, the 'Fortress of the White Bird’, one of the largest and most impressive dzongs in Bhutan housing the administrative and monastic offices for the Bumthang district.

Punakha Dzong or Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), Punakha, Bhutan

Inner view Trongsa Dzong, one of the oldest Dzongs in Bumthang, Bhutan, Asia

Our discovery of the Jakar area will include visits to Kurje Lhakhang, one of Bhutan's most sacred monasteries. A body print believed to be of Guru Rinpoche is preserved in a cave around which the oldest of the three buildings is built. The original building was constructed in 1652 by Trongsa Penlop, while the latest addition was added by the late Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuk in 1990. A huge cypress tree over hangs the building is said to have grown from Guru Rinpoche's walking stick. Then it’s on to Jambey Lhakhang, one of the 108 monasteries that the Bhutanese say were miraculously constructed by King Songtsen Gampo in one night. Finally, to Tamshing Gonpa which was established in 1501 by the local Buddhist ‘saint’ Pema Lingpa. The two-story building contains some lovely frescoes. In addition, there is 500-year-old suit of metal chain made by Pema Lingpa located on the first floor.

After lunch, visit Tamshing Lhakhang, the temple founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. Then take a short walk to the Lhodrak Kharchhu Gompa. Located above the main town, the Gompa was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of an important Tibetan lama. The Gompa has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks’ regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammar, poetry, along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.

Evening stroll in the village, exploring local shops and market.

Accommodation at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2600m)

Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim, India

Day 17: 06 Oct 2019, Bumthang - Gangtey, B/L/D

This morning we drive to the valley of Gangtey, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space and is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed.

Following lunch, we visit Gangtey Gompa perched on a ridge overlooking the valley. Later explore the fascinating Phobjikha valley. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in the milder and lower climate. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers.

Accommodation at the hotel in Gangtey. (Altitude 3,000m)

Day 18: 07 Oct 2019, Gangtey - Thimphu, B/L/D

After an early breakfast, drive to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. After lunch, a highlight of our Journey, the Thimphu Tshechu (festival).

Bhutanese Parliament, Thimphu, Bhutan

Masked dance, Tsechu festival, Thimphu Dzong, Bhutan

To witness the tsechu, one of the most popular and dazzling festivals in Bhutan is a rare and remarkable experience. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, tsechus are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. We will mingle with devotees, monks and lay people dressed in elaborate silk-brocade vestments performing sacred dances depicting the battle between desire and the search for Nirvana. All this against a background of haunting trumpets, drums, cymbals, chants and flutes. The dances and costumes have survived unchanged for thousands of years; each dance being an exact re-enactment of visions seen by Bhutan’s great Buddhist mystics. The sacred dances are interspersed with folk songs and ‘clowns’ to amuse the crowds.

Tsechu festival, Thimphu Dzong, Bhutan

‘A horde of demons in bright robes swirl through the air. They pause only to sneer through hideous fangs. A lone hero, sword in hand tosses back his long black hair, then strikes. Drums reverberate, cymbals clash and the demons cringe and cower before the all-consuming wrath of the righteous hero. Goodness prevails, and evil is vanquished’.

Later visit Trashichhoe Dzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in a traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

Accommodation at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 19: 08 Oct 2019, Thimphu, B/L/D

After breakfast, return to witness more of the Thimphu Tshechu.

Costumed and masked dancers, Bumthang, Bhutan


Lunch is followed by a city tour that includes the Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress-like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. From the temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu valley. The Memorial Chorten was built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

In the evening explore the local craft bazaar and Thimphu city centre.

Accommodation at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 20: 09 Oct 2019, Thimphu - Haa valley - Paro, B/L/D

After breakfast, drive to the Haa Valley which was opened for the first time to foreign tourists in 2002. Also known as the “Hidden-Land Rice Valley” it lies on the western most edge of Bhutan, its northern boundaries with the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, dividing it from the Indian province of Sikkim. Most of its landmass is covered by dense forest and the remainder under fields of wheat and barley, with a little rice towards its lower reaches and the accessible side valleys. Meadows support the raising of yak, cattle, chicken, pigs and horses.

On arrival, visit Lhakhang Karpo (White temple), established in the 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. According to legends, a black and white pigeon were released to select the site for temples and the white pigeon landed on the foothills of the three towering mountains worshipped as ‘Rigsumgonpo’ and is where this temple stands today.

Himalayan valley, Northern Bhutan on the Laya Track

Then visit, Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple) which serves as the seat for the guardian deity ‘Da Do Chen’. Both these temples stand as the guardian sentinels keeping watch at the south entrance of the Haa valley.

After lunch drive to Paro, en route taking a short stop at Chelela pass. Located at an elevation of 3,988 meters, Chelela is considered to be one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. About an hour's drive along a thickly-forested road, this Pass is a botanical paradise, providing stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Evening free for shopping and leisure, if time permits.

Accommodation at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 21: 10 Oct 2019, Paro - Kolkata, B/D

After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for the flight to Kolkata. On arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel near the airport where we stay for the night.

Rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy some free time. Those interested can be taken to local shopping areas for some last-minute shopping.

In the evening we enjoy our farewell dinner.

Accommodation at Pride Hotel, Deluxe Room

Day 22: 11 Oct 2019, Kolkata - Australia

Today we will be transferred to the airport for our flight back home.

Day 23: 12 Oct 2019, Arrival in Australia

Arrival into different capitals will vary.

Pricing:

Price per person twin share (Land only): TBA
Single Supplement: TBA
Airfare ex Adelaide or (other capitals by arrangement): TBA

COST INCLUSIONS:

• Tour Leader from Australia (Pamela Stewart)
• Accommodation in the above-mentioned hotels or similar
• Meals as mentioned
• Modern air-conditioned vehicles for transfers and sightseeing
• All entrances to the monuments
• ‘Inner Line’ and Restricted Area Permits
• Domestic flights
• All applicable taxes

COST EXCLUSIONS:

• International airfares
• Meals not specified
• Camera fee wherever levied separately
• Any increase in entrances and rail fares as per Government notifications in future
• Any additional taxes levied by the Government of India or His Majesty’s Government of Bhutan on the tourism sector in future
• Any expenses of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
• Any increase in the entrance fees to the National Parks or monuments
• Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay, on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond our control

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline. Please visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government traveladvice.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

On International Flight tickets

• Please refer to your conditions of ticketing

On land package cost

• Before 68 days prior to departure, no cancellation penalty
• From 67 days to 50 days cancellation penalty 10%
• From 49 days to 35 days cancellation penalty 30%
• From 34 days to 18 days cancellation penalty 40%
• From 17 days to 09 days cancellation penalty 60%
• From 10 days prior to arrival, cancellation penalty 100%

BOOKING CONDITIONS:

To participate in this tour, please email the Booking Form AND a scan of your passport to Lee Grafton. Your passport must be valid for 6 months from 11 October 2018 and have two blank pages. Once your Booking Form is received (if you are a frequent Zen traveller and we have a recent Booking Form and passport scan, an email to confirm your participation will be sufficient) or submit the booking form here.

Zen Oriental Journeys offer several ways for you to obtain your international flight tickets

• Book your flights with any provider of your choice. (Check the dates and flights carefully)
• Ask Zen Oriental Journeys to make the booking for you. We obtain your tickets and issue an invoice to you. Payment is by EFT or cheque only. Our ticketing is done in partnership with helloworld, Westfield Marion. OR
• Contact helloworld, Westfield Marion. If you wish to pay with a credit card there is a 1.2% surcharge. Our consultant is:

Sharon Evans
Owner/Manager
Shop 2004 Westfield Marion
297 Diagonal Road
Oaklands Park SA 5046
Telephone: +61 (08) 83581949
Fax: +61 (08) 83581960
E-mail: Sharon

We strongly recommend Sharon as she will manage everyone’s booking in case of change, or cancellation. Druk Air regularly change their flight schedules.

FINAL PAYMENT & CLOSE OF BOOKING: 13 JULY 2019

Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.

 
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